Asbestos in the military

USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116)

Description:  History of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.

The USS Badoeng Strait was ordered for the U.S. Navy during World War II, although her name was originally meant to be the USS San Alberto Bay.  Her keel was laid down at Todd-Pacific Shipyards in Tacoma.  She was launched on February 15, 1945 and commissioned on November 14, 1945 under the command of Captain Thomas A. Turner, Jr.

Having missed the fighting in World War II, USS Badoeng Strait operated as part of the Pacific Fleet out of San Diego until March 1946.  After a brief cruise to Hawaii, she was decommissioned on April 20, 1946.

The USS Badoeng Strait was recommissioned on January 6, 1947.  She operated in the Pacific Ocean for three years, performing training cruises, participating in antisubmarine warfare exercises, and testing new antisubmarine equipment.  During this time, she served as the flagship of Carrier Division 15 and Carrier Division 17.

During the Korean War era, USS Badoeng Strait completed three tours of duty in Korean waters, July 1950 to January 1951, October 1951 to February 1952, and October 1952 to February 1953.  She served as a member of Task Force 95 and Task Force 77 as part of the blockade-escort force as well as on antisubmarine warfare duty.

The USS Badoeng Strait provided air support during the Battle of Pusan Perimeter during August and September of 1950.  She supported the invasion of Incheon from September 15 to September 20.  The battle was a victory for United Nations forces and resulted in the retaking of Seoul by the South Koreans. The aircraft carrier also took part in the Hungnam Evacuation, a complete withdrawal of UN forces from North Korea.  The evacuation took two weeks to complete, removing over 100,000 military personnel, 17,000 vehicles, 350,000 tons of cargo, and 90,000 refugees.

USS Badoeng Strait returned to the United States for modernization from April to September 1953.  In addition to Pacific Fleet training exercises and exercises with Marine assault helicopters, she also conducted experimental work in antisubmarine warfare with new naval helicopters and aircraft.

The USS Badoeng Strait returned to the Far East for another tour of duty from February to July 1956.  She participated in Operation Redwing, testing nuclear detonations at Eniwetok and Bikini Atolls.

USS Badoeng Strait was decommissioned on May 17, 1957.  She was reclassified as an aircraft transport, AKV-16, in May 1959.  She was removed from the Naval Vessel Register in December 1970 and sold for scrap in May 1972.  The aircraft carrier received six battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for her service during the Korean War.

Like all other ships built during the World War II era, the USS Badoeng Strait was constructed using asbestos-containing components.  The toxic substance asbestos was prized for its fireproofing properties as well as its resistance to heat, water, and corrosion.  Because it was such a cheap insulator, asbestos could be found in electrical wiring, sealants, rope, turbines, gaskets, incinerators, boilers, valves, hot water pipes, steam pipes, floor and ceiling tiles, wall insulation, engine rooms, and caulking. It was also used extensively within the aircraft she carried.  Anyone who served aboard the USS Badoeng Strait or participated in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing life-threatening asbestos-related illnesses like lung cancer, asbestosis, throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, or mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that attacks the protective lining surrounding the lungs and other organs.

USS Badoeng Strait workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma.  Anyone who worked on or around the USS Badoeng Strait, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

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